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I am looking for simple head CONTROL SCETCHES FOR table top bunraku puppets....and how does the body pattern look like? (Control?)

Ive googled... but its not to clear... maybe someone of you guys have fotos on your site?

Thanx in advance


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In brief: it's not simple. The principle of traditional bunraku puppets is not to assimilate shape, but much more motion language of real humans to create the illusion of real living people, human actors in traditional kabuki and No plays at that, because the traditional plays are based on kabuki and No plays, which are also ruled by a specific way of moving, so both is probably very strange for Non-Japanese people not familiar with it.

The puppets are operated by several players each (not to go into the years of training each one has to go through starting at the feet to eventually advance to literally the "head" position, which is the most expressive part and can include complicated mechanics to open eyes and mouth). It's not necessarily a technique for tabletop smaller puppets.

However, if you want something only comparable to bunraku you could experiment with puppets similar like rod puppets, very loose joints yet stiff body so they can hold themselves upright. You would operate head and hands and feet in some ways directly with your hands, but typically as opposed to glove puppets mostly from outside which gives you more space to move and more room for expression. Typically the player would hide himself in lack clothes, not to be completely covered, but also to signal "don't look at me now", so you might want to consider black gloves and clothes.

You can also check the plenty information on HANDSPRING THEATRE, "War Horse" or the individual puppeteers involved with this project, which is somewhat inspired by traditional bunraku style puppets, and sometimes people affiliated teach beginner workshops.

There is also among others a very talented kid in UK (and all over the net), Barnaby Dixon, who uses very small puppets he operates in a somewhat comparable technique to bunraku puppets, with one hand only. Maybe his work will give you ideas, too.

There is literature on bunraku in printed books available in Japanese, some you could import, they are in Japanese but the newer ones often have good show-and-tell photographs. Some books are published in English as well, such as a fairly popular one by Donald Keene ("Bunraku: The Art of the Japanese Puppet Theatre"), but it's from the 70's and it is mainly text based and explains more the history and culture of bunraku with only a few mostly stage photographs.

Your best bet is probably go ahead and experiment with a mirror. 

Hope some of that helps!

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